Sarah Michelle Gellar is more than just Buffy, you guys. Okay, she’s definitely Buffy (I mean she’s clearly got some sort of witch-vampire connections because how has she not aged since the ’90s?) but these days she’s too busy acting, producing, and momming to bother with the undead. And we don’t blame her: The actor has two kids (with fellow ’90s icon Freddie Prinze Jr. because obviously), 10-year-old Charlotte Grace and 7-year-old Rocky James. Also, she’s working on two brand-new projects, a limited series she’s starring in and executive producing (with Ellen Degeneres!), Sometimes I Lie, and a Fox dramedy called Other People’s Houses. Also also — Gellar is quite excited about this one, although we imagine her kids are maybe less so — she’s partnering with Colgate toothpaste to get the word out about Colgate Optic White, which is apparently a godsend that will save us busy parents (and busy everyones) from awkward whitening strips forever. Rejoice!
We sat down with Gellar to discuss all of the above — plus her favorite children’s books and the eternal drama of taking kids to get a flu shot.
SheKnows: In partnering with Colgate, have you amped up oral hygiene efforts with your kids? Like, are they super-kids who floss now?!
Sarah Michelle Gellar: With children, it’s all about setting an example and modeling with them. So I get up, I brush my teeth. And my kids do it too. As a mom, I don’t have time to do a 20-minute procedure in the morning; I’m always looking for things that I can put into my daily routine that are effective that don’t take up too much time and work seamlessly into what I already do. Colgate Optic White offers that for me; I love sharing things like this that work and are affordable and available to everyone. Like, it’s one thing if there’s some great $200 whale serum out there or something — I mean not a real whale serum, I’m joking — but that price point is not achievable for most people.
Yesterday, my son got his flu shot, and within five minutes I turned around and they’d given him this nasty lollipop I never would have given him — his mouth was all colored, and I’m cringing but he was like “Don’t worry! As soon as I get home, I’ll brush my teeth!” So it’s about not feeling denied treats like that. It’s what are the steps afterwards you’ll take, to take care of yourself? Go ahead and have that super-sweet gross dyed lollipop or whatever. And then brush your teeth.
SK: Amen. And that’s so funny because my son also got his flu shot yesterday and I had the exact same experience. Damn, those nurses move fast with the lollipops!
SMG: Right? And then this morning I was like, my arm is still sore…
SK: Did you get your shot too to show him it’s not scary?
SMG: I always do.
SK: Me too, except this year I’d forgotten I already had my flu shot a month ago so they gave me a random B-12 vitamin shot yesterday instead to show my son.
SMG: Oh for sure — I literally went to a doctor once and asked them to take a syringe and stab me so my kid could see. I was like, ‘Can’t you just do an empty syringe?’…They said no. Sigh. Like, I must be due for my tetanus shot or something at least??
SK: Hey, it was worth a shot. No pun intended. Are there any weird funny things your kids are saying or doing these days? My son, for example, is obsessed with his “Mikey” brand sneakers and I don’t have the heart to tell him…
SMG: Oh I love those things. The big thing now in my family is that my daughter broke her wrist, so she’s in a cast and she’s pretty clueless about it. She’ll flip around and knock you in the head with it by accident. And those things are strong! She broke it rollerskating. And this is why you wear the wrist guards, kids.
SK: Aw poor thing. Is parenting these ages harder than the little-kid years, or easier because they’re such “real people” now?
SMG: I’m not the right person to ask because I think every moment is the sweet spot. It’s true that it goes by far too quickly.
SK: I hear that. Are you dreading having two teens in your house in a few years, or are you ready for that chapter?
SMG: Oh goodness. It’s so hard. I like babies. I want them to be young forever.
SK: We’re so excited about your new projects, Other People’s Houses and Sometimes I Lie. What can you tell us about them?
SMG: They’re both based on books, and reading is my passion — it’s my form of escapism. Both books touched me. Sometimes I Lie was the most exciting thriller; it really dives into female friendships and how codependent and dangerous they can be. It’s not always sisterhood and support. As for Other People’s Houses, it really drives home how we talk so much about social media, we validate ourselves in comparison to what we see on social media of other peoples’ lives — but all we’re seeing is a curated feed.
SK: Speaking of books, what’s your favorite thing to read with your kids right now?
SMG: We’re just starting Harry Potter with my son; he’s seen the movies because of his older sister — of course my daughter had to read all the books before seeing the movies, but he’s the second child, oh well. And what is my daughter reading? El Deafo by Cece Bell, a graphic novel about a character that has hearing loss. It’s a really sweet book.
SK: How do you decide how much and when to share your kids on social media? So many parents, famous or not, struggle with this.
SMG: That’s a really interesting question, and it’s something you struggle with whether you’re in the public eye or not. For me it’s almost easier because when you are in the public eye, I know I’d like to give them as much of a private life as I can. So it makes it almost easier to make the blanket statement that, I’m not going to share. And let them decide when they’re adults that they can [share photos, have an online presence]. But that’s an individual choice for every parent. And it’s hard! You’re so proud of them, and you just want to share.
I don’t even have a family Instagram account; I just have my public one. I have a photo stream I share with my family and friends. And I talk to my kids about understanding that social media is permanent; it’s a hard thing. You don’t let them get a tattoo until they’re 18 because they’re not developmentally able to make a permanent decision — it’s the same with posting something on social media.
SK: Have you had to deal with the ever-dreadful mom-shaming, whether online or IRL? How do you respond?
SMG: You know what they say: Opinions are like assholes; everyone has one. That’s another good thing about being in the public eye; I’ve gotten criticisms my whole life, so I know you have to give equal attention to good reviews and bad reviews. I listen to my friends and people I’ve let into my life, and I value their opinions, not others. I can’t take it personally.
SK: Looking back, if you could give advice to your pre-motherhood self, what would it be?
SMG: You can give all the advice in the world, but the reason you don’t have that knowledge is because you don’t have that experience. Any knowledge I could have passed along to myself in advance would have been wasted, because I had to go through the experience.
SK: That’s so, so true. Thank you so much for sharing — and for chatting with me today.
SMG: Thank you, and I’m SO glad you got your flu shot!
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And just when I thought it wasn’t possible to love another human the way I loved my daughter, seven years ago today, my son was born, and I learned that was not the case. Rocky on the day you were born, I swear my heart tripled in size. Your laugh is the only medicine I will ever need, and your excitement for life is my motivation. Happy 7 bday RockStar 🌟
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.